The Chief Supply Chain Officer is now being looked upon to steer operational processes through a minefield of globalization, geo-political turbulence, and technological advances. Navigating such obstacles is more integral than ever to the success of modern organizations, which are often operating with tight margins and in the face of intense competition, which means that any shocks could prove impossible for them to recover from.
The importance of the supply chain is evidenced by a recent Deloitte report, which found that 79% of organizations with superior supply chain capabilities achieve revenue growth that is significantly above average, while just 8% of those with lower performing supply chains achieved above-average revenue growth.
The priority for supply chain leaders must now be adapting to their new central role, while also coping with the increasing complexity modernity has brought. To do this, they must look to embrace a number of different things to help them in their task.
First amongst these is embracing technology and innovation. 3D printing is now being used extensively by the best supply chains, with a Deloitte survey finding that 48% of them do so. The Internet of Things will also be of increasing importance in upcoming years, as actions that were previously carried out manually can instead be automated. Supply chain leaders must be ahead of the curve when it comes to adopting such new technologies in order to maintain a competitive edge.
Big Data analytics is also integral to predicting changes in supply and demand. Hiring staff who can understand and interpret the data is necessary for knowing where in the supply chain to apply pressure, and for mitigating against any risks that could arise.
Ensuring timely payment is also vital. A well-run supply chain frees up cash flow by reducing the order-to-cash cycle, and processes must be put in place to ensure this. Better performance on the perfect order metric is one of the ways that can assist customers in making payments on time, by preventing any disputes causing obstacles to payment. This is all part of maintaining a good relationship with suppliers. Chief Supply Chain Officers must have good knowledge and ideally some experience of every part of the chain, whether in manufacturing, logistics/ distribution and retail, so they can understand the various risks and delays that could occur. This is all the more important in an increasingly connected world, in which supply chain partners now come from all areas.
C-Suite level professionals in Supply Chain management must embrace globalization, visiting all their partners in their respective countries to gain an appreciation of the different cultures that they are operating in. This is particularly true of Asia, which is rapidly becoming the supply chain headquarters of the world for leading players in a range of industries, including mining, information technology, consumer goods and logistics/distribution.